Churkey Noodle Vegetable Soup
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Thanks to a childhood of enforced Catholicism, I have a highly developed Super-Ego.
Thanks to hard work, diligence and maturity, I have managed, much of the time, to tell my Super-Ego where to go. And it ain’t Heaven.
Cat hair on the couch? Dust on the furniture, hundreds of picture frames needing polishing? Meh. Weeks can go by before it will really start to bug me (and my over-developed conscience). Ironing went the way of the dinosaur decades ago. I simply don’t buy much that requires ironing and, even when I do, I manage to avoid it. I’m pretty good at removing things from the dryer and getting them onto hangers, pronto. Besides, my wardrobe of baggy jeans and sneakers hardly requires an ironed blouse.
That’s one of the luxuries of (a) living in the country and (b) being 63.
My Super-Ego, unfortunately, will not leave me alone when it comes to what I eat. It gets really bad, to the point of driving me crazy. For example, the other night for my birthday, Bill took me out to dinner. I wanted to go to this cute little brew pub in our cute little town. They make their own AMAZING beer and then use the leftover grain to feed their Angus Beef, which then goes into their hamburgers.
Sheer heaven, with their fries. And just for good measure, I added bacon, a locally made cheddar, and guacamole.
Now, I only ate most of one half and only about 6 fries. Even so, when donning my “skinny pants” for going out for vegetarian pizza, I was amazed that I was still able to button them.
I mean, REALLY? Talk about dysfunctional. That is just sick!
It can’t just be Catholicism to blame, because celebrities are always talking about “guilty pleasures,” so maybe it’s universal. Or maybe our society is just really screwed up. Poor women.
All I know is, next time around, I’m coming back as a perfectly content, fat and happy woman (or man – whatever! Or even Bo, my rather “generously proportioned” dog. Doesn’t bother him the slightest bit! But then, my poor Bo has never been full a day in his life.)
Anyway, onto today’s Sunday Soup. It’s easy and fast, and can be tailor-made to your wishes and the contents of your fridge. It’s super healthy but filling, so NO GUILT! What more can you ask of a great tasting dinner? Tonight’s dinner will be my “Churkey Noodle Vegetable Soup.” No, I did not mean “Chunky.” I meant “Churkey,” as in chicken meat with turkey broth. But you can use chicken broth, of course. Because I’m kind of doubting you have a garage freezer full of turkey broth!
I have this stock pot that I bought when we first moved here. I bought it online (duh – where else?). Well, it said something like “20 Quart Professional Stainless Steel Stock Pot.” I had NO idea how big a stock pot this would turn out to be. It’s big. And it sits in the waaay back of my pantry for the entire year, with the exception of one time: the week after Thanksgiving.
That’s when I get as much meat off the turkey as I can, and then make it into turkey broth. I throw the carcass into my plus-sized pot, along with onion, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and a bay leaf. Oh, and water… yeah, right. I’m not particularly great at being specific with my recipes, in case you haven’t noticed.
I let that baby simmer away for a day or even two. I’m aiming for enough rich, dark turkey broth for soup but, more importantly, for next year’s Turkey Gravy.
Back in the day, I would actually go out and buy some turkey legs, a week or so before Thanksgiving. I would make Turkey Broth out of those, then use the Turkey Broth for making my gravy. Then, after the Big Day, I would simmer the carcass for turkey soup. It finally dawned on me that I was doubling my effort. I wasn’t sure if this year’s broth would extend to next year’s gravy, but I thought it was worth a try. And it worked!
You would not believe the difference it makes, making your Thanksgiving gravy with Turkey Broth rather than chicken broth. I’ve been told it’s the best gravy some guests have ever had (not just the kids!), and I actually believe them. It’s AMAZING. Well, a 20 quart stock pot makes a LOT of broth. But I’m so used to cooking for 5 kids that I’m used to this sort of dilemma. Only, now that they’ve all flown the coop, it’s a different sort of dilemma.
I end up with a lot of broth, as I’ve said. I put aside a number of mason jars for the following Thanksgiving’s Gravy, and use some of it for Churkey Noodle Vegetable Soup. So, without further ado:
Churkey Noodle Vegetable Soup
1 sweet onion, chopped (I used a leek from the garden)
1 T chopped garlic
Red or Green Bell Peppers, chopped
Pinch of thyme, sage, or whichever you prefer (or neither!)
6-8 c chicken or turkey broth
Chicken breasts (skinless, boneless) or tenders equivalent or rotisserie
One can diced tomatoes or some fresh ones, chopped
Frozen or canned peas
Frozen or canned corn
Wide egg noodles, or angel hair pasta or orzo, or quinoa or any type of pasta, or potatoes or rice, for that matter!
Small pieces of kale or baby kale or chopped fresh spinach, optional (if you have guilt issues, add this in and you can have dessert!)
Parmesan, for topping
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon
Throw onion, carrots, celery, peppers and herbs into a stock pot filled with enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom well. Salt generously and cook, on low, until the onions turn translucent and soft. Nice and slow. Stir often and don’t let them brown.
Add your garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Now add your broth (turkey or chicken) and bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and keep at a simmer.
After a couple of hours, just before you’re ready to eat, cut up the chicken into cubes. Or precook the breasts, drain, rinse and shred (or cut into cubes). Or add your shredded or cubed rotisserie chicken or turkey. At the very last minute, after your pasta/rice/whatever has cooked, throw in the baby kale/chopped spinach, corn, peas and tomatoes. Remove parmesan rind.
Continue to simmer, just until peas and corn are warmed through. It’s all good. Check your soup for salt and pepper and adjust. Add a squeeze of lemon, if you’d like.
Slice some good bread and lay it out on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and grate parmesan over the tops. Broil until golden brown.
Nuke your bowls and ladle your soup into them. Top with chopped parsley or a bit of the chopped spinach, for color. Grate parmesan on top. Light the candles on the table and enjoy this good comfort food, guilt-free. And now that you’ve been so virtuous, you can have that piece of chocolate for dessert.
And if you have any tips for overcoming an overactive “Super-Ego,” please let me know.
(I was so proud of myself for growing baby kale in a big, galvanized tub outside the greenhouse. For weeks, I’ve been watching it thrive. I had even covered it with an old wire refrigerator basket to protect it from the omnipresent deer. I went out this morning to harvest it and lo and behold. Some rascally bugs had gone in there and laid eggs on the back of the kale and either the parents or the babies had eaten nearly every single leaf. And what was left was surrounded by weeds. Ugh. Some days, a gardener just can’t win.)
Cheers – Vicky